Inter Milan chairman Steven Zhang said on Friday that major Chinese investor Suning was committed to the long term and played down suggestions the Serie A club could be sold. “The commitment for us is long-term. The future is crystal clear since we took over the club,” Steven Zhang told a press briefing after Inter Milan’s annual shareholders’ meeting.
Chinese retailer Suning took control of the club in 2016 in what has been billed as one of the most high-profile takeovers of a European football team by a Chinese company. Under his ownership, Inter won their first Serie A title in 11 years in 2021. Having also qualified for the lucrative Champions League, the club’s finances have been hit hard by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.
Suning has been hit hard by the virus downturn and embarked on a restructuring plan involving a state-backed fund becoming a major shareholder. The Chinese company has also secured financial backing of 275 million euros ($273.71 million) from Oaktree Capital Management to shore up Inter Milan’s finances.
Zhang made his comments after several media outlets reported that the owners were exploring options to sell the team. Three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters Goldman Sachs and US boutique bank Raine, which handled the sale of Chelsea earlier this year, are scrambling to find potential suitors for the loss-making Serie A side.
At least two US investors have recently expressed interest in buying the club, two of the interviewees said, without providing further details. The Inter Milan owner is targeting a valuation of at least €1.2bn, the sources added.
However, Zhang, who is the son of Suning founder Zhang Jindong, played down any decision to sell Inter Milan. “We’re not talking to any investors,” he said. “We haven’t signed a contract with any of them,” he added, referring to the advisers.
Inter Milan posted an annual loss of €140m in the 12 months to June, down from a record €246m the previous year. ($1 = 1.0047 euros) (Report Elisa Anzolin, Elvira Pollina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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